In a world where electronic music continually evolves, artists like Justin Marchacos stand out for their unique journey and unwavering commitment to musical innovation.
From the heart of New York City, Justin has transitioned seamlessly from a successful career in film scoring to creating awe-inspiring dancefloor anthems. His latest EP, entitled ‘Conviction,’ released under the renowned Katermukke Records, showcases his mastery of intricate melodies, powerful basslines, and a relentless pursuit of sonic bliss. In this exclusive interview, he invited us into his musical world, sharing insights into his creative process, collaborations, and the profound influence of his film-scoring background. Join us as we dive deep into the mind of an artist who’s reshaping the electronic music landscape one beat at a time.
EG: Hi Justin and welcome to EG! Where are you located right now?
Justin Marchacos: Hey! Thanks so much for having me. I’m currently in New York and loving it. I’ve been here since 2005 so I guess I can say I’m officially a New Yorker.
EG: To kick things off, what can you tell us a bit about your upcoming release ‘Conviction’ on Katermukke Records? What can listeners expect from this EP?
Justin Marchacos: Simply put, ‘Conviction’ is a four-track EP with two originals of mine, one collaboration with Apir, better known as Tim Green, and a remix of that collab by Sascha Cawa…but to me, it’s much more than that. This EP is the fruit of tons of hard work in the studio… work done with love. Each cut is different, but within each one exists the ability to transform the listener’s headspace on the dance floor into a place of bliss. Each track is meant to be a main character, a powerful lead role. Not a supporting actor or an extra just there to fill space. I’m really proud of this one.
EG: Can you walk us through the creative process for this EP?
Justin Marchacos: My process with this EP and all the work that I do in the studio begins with me playing around with basslines and melodies, trying to capture a mood. The mood that I go for is hard to describe, it’s like somewhere in between aggressive determination, a feeling of strength, anticipation, and ultimately joy. Not sugary, silly joy… but the positivity that arises through some sort of grand accomplishment. Often there’s a heavy darkness and a struggle on the way to these moments and you can feel that in the music. I think my sound absolutely reflects my life, and the actual process of making the music too… like trying to figure out a puzzle that ultimately leads to deep satisfaction. There is no difference between my life and my music.
EG: ‘Quest for the Crown’ is a collaboration with Apir. Can you share how this collaboration came about and what it was like working with Tim’s alter-ego?
Justin Marchacos: Working with Tim Green, and his alter-ego Apir is incredibly fun. He stays at my place whenever he comes to New York, and we always eventually find our way into my studio. A session usually begins with a few old fashioneds – our favorite cocktail, a lot of shit-talking, listening to music, and laughter to the point of tears. When we finally get to work, it’s really remarkable the way our styles and techniques complement one another. I like to work fast, but Tim has this uncanny ability to slow things down with his attention to detail and truly fantastic ear. Musically he’s a genius, and it shows through his impeccable choices of just-the-right drum sounds, complex melodic ideas, and absolute perfectionism. The songs I’ve made with him have a certain polished quality that I struggle to obtain on my own… it’s really a treat to work with him, and I learn so much every single time.
EG: What are your thoughts on Sascha Cawa’s Remix of ‘Quest For The Crown’? What do you think it adds to the original track?
Justin Marchacos: Man, let’s talk about another musical genius, shall we? Sasha is amazing. I remember once he was visiting my studio in New York, doing things I couldn’t have dreamed of with a synthesizer, Juno 106, that I owned for almost a decade. I still don’t know what he was doing. He’s technically an absolute master. His take on ‘Quest For The Crown’ is so interesting, so artistic and so unique. I was blown away when I first heard it. Sasha actually expressed some concern that maybe his interpretation had strayed too far from the original, but his unconventional approach to the track was exactly what made this EP feel “whole” to me. His rhythms, sound design, and production brought an angle that completed the picture. His remix gave the EP a variety and totality that wouldn’t have been the same without it. I’m so proud to have him be a part of it.
EG: What message or feeling do you hope your listeners take away from ‘Conviction’ and your music in general?
Justin Marchacos: I think the feeling I’m trying to share is something like triumph. A lot of people don’t often get to have these huge waves of positive emotion in their everyday lives, but they can experience it fully on the dance floor. When I’m looking out at the crowd that’s the best feeling… when I can see people just absolutely losing it, enveloped in a totally ecstatic escape from their normal day-to-day lives. The goal of this EP, and when I perform is to share these indescribable moments of joy and triumph.
“I think the feeling I’m trying to share is something like triumph. A lot of people don’t often get to have these huge waves of positive emotion in their everyday lives, but they can experience it fully on the dance floor”
EG: We recently selected Katermukke as Label of the Month. What are your thoughts on the Dirty Doering’s imprint and what do you think makes it special?
Justin Marchacos: I was so excited to see that EG chose Katermukke as Label of the Month, especially in the same month of my release! Katermukke has been a label that I have always had so much respect and reverence for. They consistently put out incredible, timeless music that doesn’t follow trends. They give opportunity to up-and-coming talent, as well as release music from absolute legends, based not on name recognition, but purely on the quality of music. So many labels put out totally predictable sounds, with every track sounding alike, but with Katermukke you never really know what’s going to come next. They always have the freshest tracks with the most interesting artists on earth. I am so proud to join this incredible roster of talented musicians.
EG: Moving into some history, you started your musical career in film scoring. How did your experience in film scoring influence your transition into dance music?
Justin Marchacos: Scoring film is really interesting and creative. You can use any combination of seemingly unrelated instruments, just as long as you nail the right mood for the right moment. For example, you can make rhythms with African drums, combine them with native american flutes, layer them with orchestral sounds like piano and strings… and as long as the scene works, it’s a success. With dance music, I had to learn to “under-compose” a bit and dial back some of the variety. There are a lot more rules in dance music, so in some ways, I had to let go of the open-ended exploration involved in film music and develop a whole new set of skills in order to succeed with dancefloor-oriented tracks. That said, I will never fully escape my love for big cinematic moments, and all of my tracks contain them. I think the musicality and versatility that I learned from scoring films is my greatest strength.
EG: Are there any specific moments or experiences from your film-scoring days that have had a lasting impact on your approach to music production?
Justin Marchacos: Yes, definitely. In making music meant for the theater I had to learn how to place sounds in a space, using panning and reverb to make sounds move from one side of the screen to the other, or even behind you. I also had to make sure that all the frequencies were represented and mixed properly for big movie theater systems, layering sounds so that you feel the deep sub-bass, rich mid-range material, and crispy highs. When I started writing dance music I was already very good at mixing, which was a huge help. There are a lot of really great producers out there who give their tracks to other people for mixdowns, but I’ve been able to do that part well since the beginning. I actually often help up-and-coming producers learn the art and science of mixing… it’s a lot of fun. Also, I definitely plan to return to film scoring someday, but right now I’m just having such a good time performing… it’s fantastic.
EG: From your musical influences. Can you name a few artists who have particularly inspired your work, and how have they influenced your sound?
Justin Marchacos: I try to not be too influenced by other artists in the world of electronic music. It’s easy to look at artists who have had success, and try to somehow recreate what they are doing… but even if you are able to copy a sound or style perfectly, you’ll always be second best. I take more inspiration from genres outside of house and techno. I like psychedelic progressive rock like Pink Floyd, I love listening to film scores, and cyclical hypnotic melodics like in Philip Glass’ work, and I actually love drum and bass. I listen to a lot of dub reggae, Django Reinhardt-type jazz, big band, and West African stuff as well. Techno is really, really cool too. One day I’ll make more of that, I love it.
EG: In regards to touring, where (and why) do prefer to play: small venue, large festival, boat party, house after-hours?
Justin Marchacos: To be honest, I prefer big, really good sound systems, big stages, and big crowds at peak times. I don’t consider myself a DJ, and I almost exclusively play live, so it’s always my music, and the music that I write is mostly meant for those moments. Boat parties are also amazing, I love them, especially if the sound is good. I’ll play smaller venues as well, but I have to change my style and sound a little bit to fit the space, but I prefer big. I write my music for big, high-quality sound systems and sometimes when I play smaller ones, my work doesn’t translate the way I intended. People who know me know that I have a serious thing about great sound. I’m obsessive about it.
EG: Is there a specific event or location that left a significant mark on you as an artist?
Justin Marchacos: My first gig ever was a Cityfox event on New Year in New York. I played for probably 1,500 people and it changed my life. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with performing. Also, Berghain in Berlin was an extremely eye-opening and inspiring experience… the sound, the people… it’s borderline religious. I connect a lot with Berlin in general, the people and the scene are just amazing.
EG: You’ve shared the stage with many artists. Is there a specific DJ or producer you admire most and would love to collaborate with in the future?
Justin Marchacos: I collaborate best with people I enjoy spending time with, I make the best music with my friends. Let’s see what happens… I hope to make some more friendships and great music with more talented artists in the coming years. There are definitely a few artists I have my eye on.
EG: Apart from ‘Conviction,’ do you have any other exciting projects or collaborations in the pipeline that you can give us a sneak peek of?
Justin Marchacos: Yes! I’ve actually got a killer three-track EP coming in less than a month on October 20th, I believe. I’ll be returning to Desert Hearts Black with some really special tracks that I can’t wait to share.
EG: How do you see your music evolving in the future? Are there any new directions or styles you’re eager to explore?
Justin Marchacos: Lately I’ve been trying to push myself away from the habits that I get into as a producer. I find myself going back to a lot of sound sources and techniques that I feel comfortable with… but I think it’s so important to evolve as an artist. I recently changed a few of the main synthesizers I use in the studio and have been creating some really fresh sounds. I’d also like to start recording vocalists a bit more. Vocals can be so effective if done right, with a really, really special voice.
“I write my music for big, high-quality sound systems and sometimes when I play smaller ones, my work doesn’t translate the way I intended”
EG: New York City has a vibrant music scene. How has being based in NYC influenced your music and career as an artist?
Justin Marchacos: If I wasn’t in New York I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today in my musical career. I was perfectly happy just being a composer and producer…. I never wanted to be a DJ. It was only after I was discovered and signed to the old Cityfox record label, and they asked me to perform live that I began down this road. NYC’s scene has exploded in recent years, there are so many events, and so many artists living here and passing through here… it’s become a worldwide hub, in many ways because of the Brooklyn Mirage. That place is a beast, and it has created so many new fans of house and techno, it’s crazy. There was a while in New York when house and techno were basically dead… then the Mirage came along and created a huge scene. That larger scene has really given the opportunity for new events and really talented upcoming promoters to bring something unique… like Mind Matter, Gray Area, etc. New York City is wild right now.
EG: Social media plays a significantly influential role in shaping an artist’s career. What is your perspective on this matter?
Justin Marchacos: Social media… I can’t stand it, but I understand its power, and I’m trying to harness it better. It’s become as much a part of your success as an artist as the music itself, and unfortunately maybe even more so. You can’t get by with just great music alone unless you are already a well-established talent. It can be a really great tool to reach a larger audience, so I guess we just have to live with it and try to use it to our advantage.
EG: Lastly, some short questions…
- The best part of what I do is… to be able to do exactly what I love, every single day. I am obsessed about/with… really good sound systems, and love.
- Music is… Nourishing.
- My favorite time of day is… All the time is my favorite time!
- I love it when… I overcame a difficult challenge.
- The most important human trait one should embody is… Kindness and understanding.
- I am… Amazing. You are amazing. We are all amazing.
I just wanted to say thank you SO much for the opportunity to join you here at Electronic Groove. I’m humbled and honored that you chose me to take part in this interview… really, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to you and everyone reading – good luck with everything you do!
EG: Thanks to you for this very special interview!